USA World News The World

Explosions in Mexico, Terror in Berlin, and Henry Heimlich: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines so you can stay on top of things.

1. China seizes U.S. underwater drone


A Chinese ship found a U.S. Navy underwater drone in the South China Sea, an area afflicted by ongoing territory disputes among world powers. While the grounds regarding access to these waters remain unclear, the United States contends that the drone was clearly marked and that China must return the device.  China’s Defense Ministry claims that they picked up the drone because they weren’t sure if it posed a risk to their sailors. While The Donald  was making some idiotic Twitter posts about letting China keep the drone out of spite, Senator John McCain (R) has declared that America’s weak response to the ordeal has only affirmed our deteriorating leverage in global military operations.

2. Henry Heimlich passes away at the age of 96


Henry Heimlich, the surgeon who developed the “bear-hug” maneuver (also known as the Heimlich), died of a heart attack on December 17, 2016. The Heimlich maneuver has saved thousands of lives in choking and drowning situations. In the span of his career, he has not only contributed to improving first-aid emergency response, but he has also invented a number of surgical techniques that were employed in the Vietnam War and are stilly widely used today.

3. Dylann Roof found guilty of Charleston church shooting


Dylan Roof, 22, was finally found guilty of killing nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015. Last week on Thursday, Roof was convicted of all 33 counts and he filled a note saying that he didn’t want the juror to consider his mental health because, according to his racist journal, psychology is a Jewish invention. However, the jurors still need to decide if he should spend a life in prison or a death penalty.

4. Facebook joins fight against the spread of fake news


Facebook is working with five fact-checking organizations to ease users in reporting fake news when they see it. Those five organizations Facebook works with are ABC News, The Associate Press,, Politifact, and Snopes. It goes this way: if enough people report a story as fake, Facebook will pass it to third-party, fact-checking organisations that are part of the nonprofit Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network.

Next thing, Facebook won’t remove stories that fail the fact-checking process. Instead, the stories will be publicly flagged as “disputed” so they are forced to appear lower down in feed. The silver lining is that users can learn why it is by clicking them but they’ll get warning if they continue to share the “fake news” with their friends.

5. Ukraine nationalizing its largest bank to stabilize crisis


Since the fight against Moscow-supported militant in the east, Ukraine underwent some matter on financial stability that the government needs to take over the ownership of Ukraine’s largest bank, PrivatBank, that previously belonged to oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. According to different sources, the bank holds up to half of all deposits in Ukraine and is crucial for the country’s banking sector. Twenty million Ukrainians use the bank including 3.2 million pensioners.

6. Explosion in Mexico City fireworks market kills dozens


At least 29 people have been killed outside of Mexico City when a series of explosions set off in a crowded fireworks market. The resulting explosions also injured dozens of individuals. The traditional market has experienced fires in the past, resulting in the Mexican Pyrotechnics Institute setting special safety measures for the event. The cause of these explosions is currently being investigated.

7. Obama moves to permanently ban oil drilling along U.S.-owned waters


In his final weeks as POTUS, President Obama may be using his executive authority to set offshore oil drill bans along “the vast majority” of the Atlantic and Arctic Seaboard. This unprecedented measure would help protect and conserve wildlife, the coastal ecosystem, and indigenous culture. It also serves to prevent further damage in areas that are prone to oil spills. It would be difficult for the next president to overturn this order if enacted.

8. Facts remain unknown in Berlin terror attack


German police report that at least 12 people are dead, and 48 more are injured, after a semi-truck drove through a Christmas market in Berlin. The truck came from a Polish company, the owner of which states that the truck may have been hijacked. Police arrested a migrant from Pakistan shortly after the attack, but local news media reported that this suspect was wrongfully accused. Officials say the crash could have been intentional, however, not all of the facts have been gathered yet.

9. Russian ambassador to Turkey assassinated in Ankara


Andrey Karlov, during his speech at the opening of an exhibition, was shot to death by an off-duty Turkish police officer. He stood behind the ambassador, shouted “Allahu Akbar”, pulled the trigger and shouted again “Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria. Unless our towns are secure, you won’t enjoy security. Only death can take me from here. Everyone who is involved in this suffering will pay a price.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his condolences on behalf of the country while Russian President Vladimir Putin called the killing “a provocation aimed at derailing the ties between Russia and Turkey, as well as the peace process in Syria”. The shooter was then surrounded by Turkish forces and killed, lying dead on the floor. Other three people were wounded.

10. The BAFTAs call for more diversity for its award and membership


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts made changes for two of its major categories in film award, calling for more diversity both onscreen and behind the screen. BAFTA adopts BFI Diversity Standards to decide the eligibility criteria for “outstanding British film” category and “outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer” category. These changes will take effect in 2019.

Besides, BAFTA also improves its membership criteria that now states to remove the requirement in which a person must be recommended by two existing members before joining in. Of the 375 BAFTA members joining this year, 43 percent were female, and 18 percent were from minority ethnic groups, with had a median age of 44. By comparison, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ membership is 23 percent female, 6 percent non-white, and the median age is 62.

Happy Holidays!

USA World News The World

Aleppo, South Sudan, and Self-Driving Cars: The Week in Review

We get it, the week can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines so you can stay on top of things.

1. Antonio Guterres sworn in as UN Secretary-General

Image Source

António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal (1995-2002) and former UN High Commissioner for Refugees (2005-2015) took the oath of office on December 12 as the ninth United Nations Secretary-General, succeeding Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who has led the Organization for the past 10 years. Guterres pledges to work for peace, development and a reformed United Nations. His five-year term will begin on January 1, 2017.

2. 74th Golden Globe Awards nominations are announced

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The 74th Golden Globe Awards ceremony (also known as The Golden Globes) is an upcoming awarding event to honor the best in film and American television of 2016. Hosted by comedian Jimmy Fallon, The 2017 Golden Globes will take place on January 8, 2017 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. Damien Chazelle’s La La Land seems to be dominating the awards with seven nominations, followed by Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight with six nominations.

Read the full list of nominees here.

3. A policewoman and her son were harassed and yelled at with anti-Muslim slurs.

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Hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise, especially for Muslim women with visible headcoverings. Officer Aml Elsokary from NYPD and her 16-year-old son were accosted in Brooklyn by a Christopher Nelson who yelled “go back to your country,” and “I will cut your throat!” in addition to shoving the boy.

Esokary was off-duty when the incident took place, and Nelson has since been charged with a hate crime.

Elsokary was awarded a medal of bravery in 2014 for saving a baby from a building fire. She’s a mother of five and native New Yorker.

4. A brand-new set of emojis drop in Apple’s latest iOS update

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Apple’s latest iOS 10.2 brought more diverse characters, professions, expressions, and even a few fun ones like an avocado (finally) and a gorilla. While iOS 10 was equipped with emoji predictions and Tap to Replace feature, with iOS 10.2 has emojis “beautifully redesigned to reveal even more detail, so using emoji is more fun than ever”.

5. The situation in Aleppo is the gravest its ever been

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Syria has been going through a civil war between a group of rebels and government-backed soldiers who are trying preserving Bashar al-Assad’s power. The conflict in Syria started in the city Deraa in March 2011 and reached Aleppo by July 2012. Since then, Aleppo and the city has since become one of the main battlegrounds for the civil war ever since and is divided into two sides.

As the rebels were gathering to depart the city on Wednesday morning, reports emerged that at least 82 civilians – including 13 children and 11 women – had been killed by Syrian forces who entered homes and killed those inside, then shot those who tried to flee, according to the United Nations.

People trapped in Aleppo sent their messages to the world to stop the genocide. From inside besieged Aleppo, the messages took form in videos and tweets.

Here’s how you can contribute to help alleviating catastrophe in Aleppo.

6. Yahoo’s latest security breach is the largest in history

Image Source
Image Source

Yahoo broke its own record for the largest data breach in history this week. The media site states that a hack that was carried out 3 years ago has left more than 1 billion users vulnerable. This announcement follows the revelation of another Yahoo breach 3 months ago, which affected an estimated 500 million users. No credit card numbers or other sensitive financial data are believed to have been compromised; however, the collection of passwords and account-related information is a serious concern, especially for those Yahoo users who use the same password on multiple websites. The perpetrators of both cyber attacks remain unknown.

7. Uber’s “self-driving” cars are deemed illegal

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After Uber began testing its autonomous cars to pick up passengers in San Francisco this week, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) spoke out to put an end to the road tests. DMV officials threatened legal action if Uber does not comply, asserting: “It is illegal for the company to operate its self-driving vehicles on public roads until it receives an autonomous vehicle testing permit.” And so continues the never-ending story of excitable Silicon Valley companies failing to address relevant safety regulations before releasing products to consumers. However, it may be a matter of time before state and federal legislation starts evolving at the same rate as today’s technology.

8. Yemeni children still suffering from starvation

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Image Source

UNICEF has recently released new figures regarding the ongoing crisis in Yemen, estimating that 2.2 million Yemeni children are malnourished and in need of urgent care. The organization also states that a Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes due to starvation and other malnutrition-related conditions, including diarrhea and infections. These deaths are in addition to the thousands of children killed by airstrikes in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since early 2015.

9. South Sudan is on the verge of genocide

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The tense political turmoil in South Sudan has escalated into a civil war over the past 3 years. Extreme violence between two of the region’s largest ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer, has already resulted in approximately 50,000 deaths. Furthermore, 70 percent of women report being raped by soldiers and gangs based on their ethnicity. On December 14, 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council heard a statement from the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. An excerpt from the letter reads: “South Sudan stands on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war, which could destabilize the entire region. Wherever we visited people told us the country would dissolve into another Rwanda-like situation.”

10. European Union takes bold stances on wildlife conservation

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The European Union (EU) has reviewed and upheld a series of nature directives this week regarding the conservation of birds and natural habitats. The laws collectively protect over 1000 species of birds and 1 million square kilometers of land within the EU. In addition, the European Commission just announced that it will be taking France to court for violating the birds directive, as the nation has greatly contributed to the endangerment of the ortolan bunting.

Until next week:


Senior News & Society Editor Asma Elgamal launches Policy channel to face the new political era

2016 was a tough year. In looking at the global political landscape, 2016 presented us with events like Brexit and the Trump administration, propelling hate groups into mainstream platforms and frankly terrifying the hell out of some of us.

[bctt tweet=”In times like these, the most powerful thing we can do is equip ourselves with knowledge.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Social activism hit a new high, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat – all became tools to resist and to make our voices heard. But even that sometimes, isn’t enough. As horrific as it is, a lot of the awful things that have been happening are completely legal. It’s like Hydra has infiltrated the highest levels and we are playing a very tricky game of dismantling policies while pretending that evil isn’t currently reigning over us.

“In times like these, the most powerful thing we can do is equip ourselves with knowledge,” Elgamal noted.

Like most things governmental, policies are shrouded in technical language, used to make things complex and drawn out. Some policies and legislation are incredibly long and honestly, that kind of information is not appealing to read. Although it’s super important to know what laws govern us, who really has the time to go through all these new documents to ascertain what is going on?

It’s hard to speak out against something that we don’t really understand.

So to help us deal with the aftermath, Asma Elgamal, our Senior News & Society Editor at The Tempest decided to approach things in a different way, launching the Policy channel at The Tempest.

Elgamal said, “The sole purpose of this vertical is to target and help decipher laws and policies so that everyone knows exactly what is going on. The aim of this is so that it is easier to understand which policies affect you and what they set out to do. In turn, preparing us for doing whatever is necessary to combat these policies.” Read more about The Tempest’s Policy vertical here.

USA World News The World

Castro, Ohio State, and South Korea: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines from the week so you can stay on top of things.

1. Hugely controversial figure, Fidel Castro, passes away

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died at the age of 90. His ashes are currently being transported from the Cuban capital of Havana to Santiago de Cuba. The Cuban exile community in Miami celebrated the end of an era with celebrations on the streets. Meanwhile, state security has begun a fresh round of repression against dissent during the declared 9 days of mourning following Castro’s death.

Castro’s death was met with a wide range of emotions. The Black Lives Matter movement published an article on Medium mourning the death “El Comendante.” Others are unapologetically celebrating, calling this the end of a “dark era.” 

2. International community efforts to save Aleppo may be too little, too late 


Claims of “never again” rung hollow once more as the Syrian government’s assault on the city of Aleppo nears its final stages. With the help of Russia, Syrian forces have almost completely eliminated any rebel presence in Aleppo, along with all the hospitals and tens of thousands of civilian lives. Details are hard to come by in the days following an uptick in the offensive, and France has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to ensure aid for civilians. However, it is feared that any intervention will be too little, too late.  

3. Devastating plane crash in Colombia leaves 71 dead 


The crash killed at least 71 people during a charter flight to Medellin, including members of the Brazilian Chapecoense soccer squad on its way to the Copa Sudamericana finals. Three players, two crew members and one journalist survived. Even though a preliminary investigation pointed to an electrical problem, the possibility the plane ran out of fuel has not been ruled out. The soccer club, which has risen the ranks in Brazilian soccer and has a devoted national fan base, was set to play in the first leg of the South American Cup finals Wednesday.

4. South Korea’s President embroiled in scandal 


South Korean President Park Geun-hye asked parliament on Tuesday to decide how and when she should quit, a move which opposition lawmakers dismissed as a ploy to buy time and avoid impeachment, and shifted the burden of resolving the crisis engulfing her presidency. Opposition parties rejected her offer to resign, and called on members of her Saenuri Party to join them in impeaching Park, because she has immunity from prosecution as long as she remains in office. Park is alleged by prosecutors to have colluded with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to enable her to wield improper influence in government affairs and in fundraising by two foundations set up to back Park’s initiatives. She has denied wrongdoing but acknowledged carelessness in her ties with Choi.

5. Fires in Tennessee sweep the mountains 


Wildfires in Tennessee have killed seven people and destroyed hundreds of buildings, officials believe more than 400 buildings have been damaged in Sevier County. The U.S. Department of Justice says 49-year-old Keith Eugene Mann Franklin was arrested Wednesday on one count of destroying property by means of fire. He is accused of setting two wildfires, and authorities say Mann has admitted to setting both.

6. Ohio State University campus attack leaves over 60,000 students in shock

ABC News
ABC News

The morning of November 28th, it was initially reported by media outlets that a school shooting was taking place on Ohio State University’s campus. However, it was later clarified that the attack involved an 18-year-old student wielding a knife. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a Somali immigrant, has been identified as the attacker. He allegedly used his car to drive into a group of students on campus, and then proceeded to attack with a knife. Police responded within minutes and fatally shot Artan. 11 students were injured.

The University is currently investigating whether the attack was motivated by terrorism.

7.  Donald Trump will leave the business world to focus on running the country


It’s been a source of recent debate as Donald Trump’s ability to assume his Presidential duties while managing his business empire is been called to question.  However, the President-Elect has now stated he will pass on his empire to his children to avoid a conflict of interest.

According to a spokesperson from the Trump Organization, “This is a top priority at the organization and the structure that is ultimately selected will comply with all applicable rules and regulations,” a spokesperson for the Trump Organization said in a statement”.

8.  Texas will now require funeral services when a woman has an abortion

The Washington Post
The Washington Post

As if Texas wasn’t already known for being in favor of pro-life laws and government control of women’s body, they proved it again this week. Texas is now requiring all women who undergo abortions or even miscarriages to now have a funeral service. This is a blow to many pro-choice activists and women in Texas who already are limited in services due to Texas laws. Many also see this as as an intense infringement of women’s reproductive rights, as well as emotional manipulation and abuse towards women who undergo abortions or miscarriages.

Considering that increasing numbers of Texan women are turning to DIY abortion measures because of the cost and lack of availability of centers in the south, this is a horrifying development.

9. Supreme Court to consider how long immigrants will be detained before a hearing


Today the US Supreme court is discussing whether immigrants that are detained for more than 6 months have a right to a bond hearing. This discussion is during a critical time where undocumented individuals fear for their place in America. Especially with Donald Trump being the new President elect with promises for deportations as soon as he enters office.

According to the National Public Radio, “These are not the usual deportation cases, where facts are cut and dried and people are deported within a month or two of their detention. Rather, these are people legally in the U.S., lawful permanent residents who the government is trying to deport because they committed a crime, or some cases, people who turn themselves in at the border seeking asylum because they claim a reasonable fear of persecution”.

Many of those that are undocumented or rightfully here in Dentitions often live under harsh conditions. With barely being able to communicate with family members and sometimes are subjected to abuse. We can only wait and see what the response will be from the Supreme Court.

10. Netflix lovers rejoice as offline viewing becomes available

The Odyssey

Are you in love with Netflix? Want to hang out with friends or with your bae outside of home and watch a movie? We got good news for you! Netflix now allows its users to binge watch offline! That’s right – you no longer need wifi or an in internet cable to do so. You can watch Netflix on to go, anywhere, and at anytime. Without the hassle of trying to join someone’s network, without the password. Just know that to watch online, you have to download your favorite show or movie in advance, and then your good to go.

Until next week:

USA World News The World

Marvel, BABIES, and Mosul: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines from the week so you can stay on top of things.

1. Indian PM opens up discussion for Muslim women and divorce in region

Business Insider
Business Insider

“Talaq, talaq, talaq.” The utterance of these three words allows men- and men exclusively- to dissolve a marriage. As such, women can be divorced via Skype, Facebook, or text without even having an actual conversation in person. In India, however, these three words will no longer have the power to ruin a women’s life.

India’s Supreme Court is looking to ban the practice, which is “frowned upon even by hardline Muslims, and banned in Pakistan, Bangladesh and across the Islamic world.” Last week, India’s PM Nadrenda Modi spoke up about “triple talaq” publicly for the first time, decrying the practice among Muslims. Modi also stressed that the issue should not be made into a Muslim vs. Hindu issue, attempting to diffuse tensions in the world’s third-largest Muslim population.

2. #MiercolesNegro takes internet by storm

The hashtag, which translates to Black Wednesday in Spanish, fueled a “women’s strike” across Argentina and many other Latin American countries. On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of people abandoned work and took to the streets to protest domestic violence and abuse of women. The fatal and violent gang rape of a teenage girl in Argentina incited the demonstration: “Organizers of the march are blaming this violence on machismo culture and have also urged women to dress in black as a sign of collective mourning in memory of Lucía Pérez and the many women who have died like her.” The tragic death of the 16-year-old has sparked a movement for cultural change in Latin American countries, which have some of the highest rates of female murder victims. 

3. You can now decide the fate of your favorite television characters

In Germany, viewers are participating in morality experiments on television. They are now able to vote live (by phone or online) for the fate of the main character of a fictional TV movie. Viewers will be deciding the fate of the 164 passengers on a plane: the movie’s plot, which revolves around a hijacked civil airplane and a soldier who decides to shoot it down killing its 164 passengers in order to save the lives of the 70,000 people on the ground, leaves the judge’s decision and the moral question of justice.” Echoing virtual reality technology, this interactive format makes viewers active participants. The format has been tested in reality shows but never before for narrative form- it could be the start of a whole new world for entertainment.

4. BABIES everywhere!

On October 7th, President Obama signed into law the BABIES Act. This law requires federal buildings to have changing stations in both female and male restrooms. This move towards gender equality recognizes that child-care is a shared parental responsibility. Obama, who spoke to Glamour magazine in August about being a “feminist dad,” is a tireless supporter of women’s rights.

5. Indoor maps are totally a thing now

NavVis opened its first building in New York. This is the company’s first branch in the United States but it plans to expand building by building. The German start-up has created technology that navigate users indoors- like a Google Street View for indoor environments. “Their self-developed trolley creates photorealistic 3D models of even the largest indoor spaces on the go.” This technology revolutionizes indoor navigation in everything from malls to hospitals, and is highly cost-efficient.

6. Marvel Comics’ latest hero is an amazing Syrian mother


Marvel Comics recently partnered with ABC News to deliver a digital and print graphic novel, Madaya Mom, that highlights the plight of a Syrian mother in the mountain town of Madaya. The Assad regime has placed Madaya and its residents under siege, claiming that the town is harboring terrorists, despite reports that there are no longer any gunmen in the area.

The siege has been a huge barrier for journalists hoping find out the exact conditions civilians face. This comic was written based on phone and text conversations with a real family living in Madaya, and centers around their experiences from the perspective of the family matriarch. Madaya Mom tracks one mother’s effort to keep her family alive amidst poverty, starvation, and fear of military attack, bringing the often-overlooked humanitarian crisis of this war to light.

7. Demolition of “Jungle” migrant camp in France begins


France has completed a demolition process to shut down a huge migrant camp in the city of Calais, known as the Jungle. The camp has been home to thousands of migrants and refugees for over two years. The French prefect now says that all residents have been evacuated, and the Jungle is effectively shut down. At least 1200 children are now vulnerable to starvation, human trafficking, and death. Relocation services have been provided for at least 5000 other migrants, countries are failing to show leadership in assisting these displaced families and individuals.

8. Tom Hayden, political activist, passes away at 76

The Nation
The Nation

Tom Hayden passed away at the age of 76 on Sunday, October 23. Since the 1960’s, Hayden has been a prominent politician, motivational speaker, and champion for a number of social causes. He led the anti-war effort during the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, and heavily campaigned for Proposition 65 in California, which requires many businesses to warn patrons about the use of potentially carcinogenic chemicals.

Throughout his career, Tom Hayden has inspired students and marginalized populations across the U.S. to collectively fight for justice and radical social reform.

9. AT&T purchases Time Warner in a massive deal


AT&T made an $85.4 billion offer to buy Time Warner Inc., who owns HBO, CNN, Turner Sports (TBS, TNT, TruTV), Warner Bros, and other properties. There is a big political concern that the media merger may lead to antitrust law violations, which prevent companies from working together to eliminate market competitors and abuse monopoly power.  However, representatives for the companies declare that the merge will lead to more innovation in video programming and distribution.

For now, it looks like only time will tell how the deal will impact the way we receive content from these major communications companies.

10. The Mosul offensive is in full swing in Iraq


Several days into the Mosul Offensive, a campaign to take back the last remaining ISIS-controlled city in Iraq, reports are starting to come out regarding the mounting civilian deaths resulting from attacks on both sides of the fight.

In 2014, the Iraqi armed forces fled ISIS fighters, and is now trying to take back the city. The U.S. military, as well as Kurdish Pashmurga forces, will be supporting the Iraqis’ efforts. An estimated 3000-5000 ISIS fighters are in Mosul, and they have prepared for fight with suicide car bombs, booby traps, improvised explosive devices, and other weapons of mass destruction.

The exact death toll, including among the 1 million civilians in Mosul, is unclear. However, citizen journalists are risking their lives to send information about the situation to the outside world.

Until next week:

USA World News The World

Syrian Cease-Fire, Hillary Clinton, and the iPhone 7: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines from the week so you can stay on top of things.

1. David Cameron resigns

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron stepped down from his position as a Member of Parliament. Cameron’s announcement came after numerous arguments with current Prime Minister Theresa May over grammar school policies.

Cameron stated that he did not wish to become a “distraction” in parliament and explained, “In my view, the circumstances of my resignation as Prime Minister and the realities of modern politics make it very difficult to continue on the back benches without the risk of becoming a diversion to the important decisions that lie ahead for my successor in Downing Street and the Government.”

Cameron resigned as Prime Minister this past June during the Brexit decision where UK voters decided to leave the European Union.

2. Temporary cease-fire brokered for Syria

After some of the worst bombings of the Syrian war ravaged Aleppo this week, the Syrian army has implemented a temporary ceasefire. Beginning, fortunately, with the start of Eid al-Adha, the ceasefire will be reevaluated every 48 hours. In the meantime, humanitarian groups plan to deliver resources to Aleppo and other effected areas. So far, human rights organizations report that both the Syrian army and rebel groups are following the terms of the ceasefire.

US and Russian politicians negotiated the truce on Friday in Geneva after months of debate. The terms of the ceasefire require that all attacks stop except those against the Islamic State, and that both sides allow humanitarians to aid civilian populations. If the ceasefire lasts seven days the US and Russia will move to target ISIS together.

3. Hillary Clinton shows signs of faltering health

Hillary Clinton’s health made headlines when the presidential candidate was spotted appearing to stumble as she left a 9/11 memorial service. Her campaign released statements saying that she had felt “overheated” and left to cool off at her daughter’s New York apartment.

Hours later, Clinton’s campaign revealed that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia. In press statements, Clinton has reiterated that she is in good health and recovering quickly. However, conservative media and politicians have raised questions about Clinton’s transparency and overall health, as she could tie with Ronald Reagan for eldest President should she be elected in November.

Clinton continues to rest at home and plans to attend her scheduled campaign events through video-conference over the next few days.

4. North Korea conducts its 5th successful nuclear test

South Korea noticed abnormal seismic activity this past Friday hours before its northern neighbor announced that it had conducted its fifth nuclear test. The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the seismic activity as an “explosion” about 12 miles outside of Sungijabaegam, North Korea.

North Korea has been conducting nuclear weapons tests throughout Kim Jong Un’s regime and Friday’s test marks the second in the last eight months. The test raises concerns that the isolated and extremist state may be approaching the ability to launch nuclear attacks.

5. Apple introduces the iPhone 7








Apple stores across the nation have been packed full of customers this week since the company released the iPhone 7 last Wednesday, September 7. The new iPhone model features a dual-camera system, a thinner and sleeker body, water- and dust-resistant design, and no headphone jack. The new, water-resistant phone can be submerged up to one meter for half-an-hour before experiencing any problems. Yet, iPhone buyers have reacted most to the wireless headphones system: asking questions about dongles, the irrelevance of old earbuds, and the ever-advancing pace of technology.

6. 15 years later, people remember the September 11, 2001 attacks

Damon Winter for NYT

The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was remembered at large ceremonies at two of the attack sites. In New York City, the National September 11 Memorial Plaza (built in the spot where the Twin Towers once stood) was filled with 8,000 people, including presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. At the Pentagon, President Obama gave his last address to remember the 184 people who died there in another hijacking.

In connection with Islamophobic rhetoric, the anniversary this year set off an increased number of Anti-Muslim hate crimes. Although the day of remembrance became politicized in more ways than one, millions spent the day grieving those killed.

7.  North Dakota pipeline construction has been put on hold


After months of peaceful protest, protesters were given a temporary relief when the federal government stepped in to prevent continued construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Sept. 9 injunction will prevent further construction until a “serious discussion” can take place.

The DAPL’s mass criticism comes on the grounds that the 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline would create danger for the Standing Rock Sioux people. Construction risks contaminating the Standing Rock Sioux’s water supply and destroying the land that is culturally and rightfully theirs. The pipeline is also a huge obstacle on the road to climate safety. This has been the biggest protest against a fossil fuel structure.

8. New York Fashion Week has arrived


Kicking it off with Kanye and the Yeezy Season 4 line, New York Fashion Week showcased a wide variety of designers. From folks who just entered the fashion industry to people who’ve designed for Beyoncé, the designs took on an equally wide variety of themes. Making headlines were the returns of old styles of Chinese slippers.

What grabbed the most eyes was the diversity among models – to name a few, Indian designer Archana Kochhar hired Reshma Qureshi as a model. Qureshi survived an acid attack in 2014, after which she had permanent scarring to her face. Additionally, designed Anniesa Hasibuan‘s models were all decked in modest gear – a new milestone for hijabi fashion.

9. Taking a knee: Colin Kaepernick sets an example across NFL teams

Thearon W. Henderson for Getty Images
Thearon W. Henderson for Getty Images

After a series of preseason games where Colin Kaepernick was criticized by media and his teammates alike for not standing for the national anthem, he continues to do so unapologetically as an act of protest. Despite the negativity that has pervaded the reception of Kaepernick’s decision, some players have joined him and been penalized, and others have joined him and been supported by higher-ups.

Of the Miami Dolphins, 4 players knelt for the anthem instead of standing at the first season game on Sunday. The team’s owner, Steve Ross, stated publicly after their game, “These guys are making a conversation about something that’s a very important topic in this country. I’m 100 percent in support of them.”

10. The world lost trans activist Alexis Arquette


Alexis Arquette, one of the four acting Arquette siblings, passed away on September 11, reportedly from AIDS-related complications. Surrounded by their family, Alexis spent their final moments listening to David Bowie and telling their family about the next dimension, where there was only one gender.

Alexis was a transgender activist for most of their life, having announced their intention to transition in the mid-’90s. They refused to play roles that were written to be degrading or stereotypical of people who identify as LGBTQ. Alexis’ greatest legacy is the visibility that they brought to the trans community in the US through media & entertainment.

Until next week:

USA World News The World

Michael Brown, the Olympics, and Japan: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines from the week so you can stay on top of things.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. The Olympic Games began, and they’re amazing


The 2016 Summer Olympics commenced in Rio de Janeiro, making Brazil the first South American country to host the event. The Olympics start as the country faces major political instability and an economic crisis.

This year’s Games includes the first-ever refugee team, comprised of 10 athletes from Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Ethiopia. Ibtihaj Muhammad has made headlines as the first woman in hijab to represent and compete for a U.S. team in the Olympics. Some of the most notable wins include Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky’s gold medal wins as they dominate the Olympic pool.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has officially served Russia a blanket ban from the Paralympic Games. The International Olympic Committee, by contrast, chose to ban individual athletes following the state-wide doping scandal for the Games in Rio.

2. The 2-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The 2-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death was a day for commemoration, reflection, and a re-igniting of resolve. Michael Brown’s death two years ago marks what some argue is the start of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

After an evening church service, in St. Louis, MO, a protestor was struck by a speeding car. Gunfire was heard shortly after. No one is reported injured as a result of the gunfire, and incident is reportedly an accident.

An unarmed Michael Brown was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson August 9th, 2014. He would have been 20 years old by now.

3. The Japanese Emperor Akihito hints at his resignation


Japanese Emperor Akihito asked Parliament to consider rewriting the law, asking for permission to resign from his position and pass it on to his son. Akihito is 82 years old, has battled cancer, and undergone several surgeries.

In a rare televised speech, Akihito addressed his failing health and hinted at his desire to resign. If he were to resign, the very fabric of Japanese tradition would falter. While the Emperor holds no political clout, but the position holds significance to the Japanese people and their history.

4. Landslides in Mexico wreak havoc in the country


Landslides in the Mexican states of Puebla and Veracruz have killed at least 40 people so far. The Landslides come after Hurricane Earl struck the coast earlier this week. Due to the states’ mountainous geography, mudslides have ensued, and evacuation is encouraged for the people’s safety.

Currently, Earl has been downgraded to a tropical depression. However, there’s been significant damage in the two states.

National Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Puente has kept the public updated via Twitter on the efforts to provide assistance to affected families.

5. A London knife attack was called “spontaneous”

A total of six individuals were stabbed in London on Thursday, August 4th. The wife of a Florida State University professor,  Darlene Horton, 64, was among the victims. Police are calling this a “spontaneous” incident.

The suspect is a 19-year-old Norwegian of Somali origin. So far, there haven’t been any links to terrorism.

6. Supreme Court ruling falters around transgender rights


An order that would have allowed a transgender student to use the bathroom of his choice has been temporarily blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. The school board in Gloucester County, Virginia  is challenging the decision amidst growing controversy.

The student, who resides in Virginia, was born female, but now identifies as male. The timing of this blocking means that the student will not be able to use the restroom of his choice by the time the school year begins.

7. #PalestineIsHere reminds Google Maps of their ridiculous mistake


Google Maps is being accused of removing Palestine from the world map, with Google alleging that it never was on the map in the first place. After this discovery, thousands of people shared their anger and thoughts on the matter by utilizing #PalestineIsHere.

Over 270,000 people have signed a petition titled, “Google: Put Palestine On Your Maps!” The petition was created back in March, with it gaining traction especially within the last week.

8. A hospital fire in Baghdad, Iraq brought heartbreak to the country

Reuters, Thaier Al-Sudani
Reuters, Thaier Al-Sudani

A hospital fire has struck a maternity ward in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 11 premature infants. The incident is just another amidst a series of heartbreaking occurrences in Baghdad within the last few weeks.

Some were just hours old, resting in incubators in the preterm birth unit, when a short circuit occurred in an air conditioning unit, according to a preliminary report provided by the Civil Defense.

9. Zika spreads to the U.S., and nobody’s happy

Miami Herald
Miami Herald

There have been four more likely cases of the Zika virus reported in Miami, Florida. So far, the city is the only place in the U.S. with “active transmission” for Zika. Anxiety surrounding the spread of the virus have people in the area panicked.

Hillary Clinton visited the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami and made the case for Congress to approve funding for treatment, testing, and research to combat the virus.

10. Instagram stories is testing our loyalty to Snapchat

Social Media Today
Social Media Today

Instagram rolled out its latest feature, Instagram Stories, in an update this past Friday. The feature is being labeled as Snapchat 2.0, and by those less kind, as a “complete rip off.” Like Snapchat stories, Instagram Stories allows users to post 10 second videos and add text, stickers, and emojis (not to mention it’s all gone after 24 hours). Sound familiar, anyone?

You can always get news straight to your inbox here.

USA World News The World

Trump’s Nemesis, Oil for Food, and China: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 8 headlines from the week so you can stay on top of things.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Muslim women knock Trump over with a feather.

Following a cynical remark Donald Trump had made about Ghazala Khan, the mother of a Slain US Muslim soldier, Muslim women all over the world bombarded the presidential candidate with thousands and thousands of tweets along with the hashtag #CanYouHearMeNow.

In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Trump responded to Khizr Khan’s claims that Trump has “sacrificed nothing and no one” to which Trump responded with a tactless remark about Mrs. Khan who had been standing beside her husband during the speech saying hinting at the common stereotype of oppressed Muslim women. He said  “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say,” he said, adding that “maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say”.

This is not the only female-unfriendly action by Trump this week. He also practically kicked a mother with her crying baby out of his rally during one of his speeches after having initially told the mother that he didn’t mind her crying baby.

2. Ahmed Zewail, the Father of Femtochemistry, dies at 70.

Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian chemist, Ahmed Zewail, died while paying his daughter a visit in the US. The cause of death is still unknown.

Zewail won the Nobel Prize in 1999 for his keywork that helped establish the field of femtochemstry, becoming the first Arab scientist to win a Nobel Prize in science. He discovered that it was possible with rapid ultrafast laser technique to describe the chemical reaction of atoms in a molecule on very short time scales known as femtoseconds (fs).

3. Venezuela exchanges oil with food from Jamaica as payment.

Venezuela has been in dire need of food and medicine for months, and despite the crisis, the Venezuelan government has refused aid from Amnesty International and The United Nations, turning to a trade pact with Jamaica instead. Jamaica  announced last week that they will be offering around $4 million worth of food and services  in exchange for Venezuelan oil.

This is not the first time for Venezuela to use oil as a form of payment. China has been providing its Venezuelan counterpart $65 billion in loans since 2007, which Venezuela has been trying to repay in form of oil. According to the Inter-American Dialogue, PDVSA – Venezuelan state-run oil company – has sent around 579,000 barrels of oil to China on a daily basis last year.

4. Typhoon Nida hits China, disrupting 500 flights.

Hong Kong’s first major Typhoon struck the city on Tuesday, bringing winds of more than 62 mph and thereby disrupting about 500 flights as well as bus, tram and ferry roots while putting low-lying areas on flood alert.

Last month, Typhoon Nepartak forced at least 420,000 people out of their homes and instigated more than 7.1 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in losses in China’s Fujian province alone.

5. The Czech President wants to arm his people, and that’s an issue.

Miloš Zeman is reversing his calls for gun control, directly calling upon citizens to arm themselves in the light of the recently escalating terror attacks in Europe.

In an interview with the Czech Blesk newspaper, Zeman said, “Earlier I spoke against possession of large amounts of weapon [by the citizens]. After those [terrorist] attacks, I do not think so any more.”

In further attempts to safeguard the country, the Czech president even suggested building up fences along the Czech borders in case of a larger influx of illegal immigrants.

Other European nations have also been taking up fire arms for self-defense purposes, such as some French citizens and Germans.

6. Reindeer brought about an anthrax outbreak in Russia.

A boy has died as a result of the bacterial infection in north Siberia while dozens of people have been hospitalized, many of whom are children. The government had to airlift people out of the area after confirming that more than 2000 reindeer have died after contracting the infection in the Yamalo-Nenets region of Siberia.

According to local officials, the  reindeer likely picked up the infection from an anthrax infected frozen carcass of a reindeer that died in an anthrax outbreak 3 quarters of a century ago and thawed as a result of an unusually warm summer this year where temperatures in the area rose to a whopping 35 C.  Danger in the area has now been quarantined after Russia sent in troops trained for biological warfare to manage the situation.

 7. The Assad regime attacked civilians with chlorine gas, and the world was silent.

In an act of revenge after Idlib rebels shot down a Russian helicopter killing all 5 soldiers on board, the Asad regime dropped chlorine gas onto the town of Saraqeb in the Idlib province late Monday evening.

At minimum of two chlorine canisters have been dropped by a regime helicopter over the town of 30,000 residents and about 30 people, mostly women and children, have been affected. Chlorine gas can cause shortness of breath and blood foaming from the mouth.

While Syria’s key military backer denies that the chemical attack had taken place, this is not the first time for the Asad regime to use chemical weapons against its own people. According to a report by the Syrian-American Medical Society, at least 161 chemical attacks have been carried out by the regime during the 5 years of the crisis until March 2016, killing at least 1500 and insuring a minimum of 14,581 people.

8. Obama has had it up to here with Trump.

In a White House press conference last week, Obama declared that Donald Trump is “unfit to be president” and  “woefully unprepared to do this job.”

Obama’s statement came out  in the aftermath of Trump’s notorious criticism of the Muslim parents of a US soldier, killed in 2004 in Iraq, who had spoken out against him.

Obama added that despite his differences with Republican candidates and presidents in the past, he never thought they could not function as presidents. Obama concluded that since Republicans have been repeatedly disapproving Trump’s statements, they ought to withdraw their endorsement of the candidate.

You can always get news straight to your inbox here.

Politics The World

Melania’s plagiarism is a classic case of white privilege

The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday, July 18th in Cleveland, Ohio, amassing an estimated 50,000 people and thoroughly stunting traffic in the city. The night was set aside for Donald Trump to formally accept the presidential nomination, marking the final leg of the 2016 campaign trail.

My phone went wild with countless pings from various media channels as I watched the convention on TV. Scrolling through my social media feeds, I was assured many of my peers were doing the same – but I don’t think anyone was ready for the mess Melania Trump’s speech would make.

No matter your political affiliations, you can’t deny that Melania Trump’s speech bears an unmistakeable, undeniable, irrefutable resemblance to Michelle Obama’s DNC speech 8 years ago.

Trump’s campaign manager has denied the plagiarism allegations, calling them “absolutely absurd,” and won’t be holding anyone accountable for the flub.

(Hilariously enough, this isn’t the only thing Melania took inspiration from in her speech. )

Given the stir this has caused, one thing I’m left wondering is: was this to be expected? Is this simply indicative of a familiar narrative?

I mean, come on. Melania, a fair-skinned woman, has ripped off the words of Michelle Obama, a black woman – and has the gall to call it completely original. It doesn’t matter that the proof is right there, in writing, and on live television.

We’re talking about a presidential couple that repeatedly sensationalizes events and builds support on non-facts. Donald Trump has made lying a fashionable practice in the political arena, even for things that don’t necessarily have an impact on whether or not he gets more support. Melania is married to a man who didn’t even write his own book, who makes up anecdotes to rally his supporters. And there are 101 concrete examples to back this all up.

So why shouldn’t the same tactics apply to his wife?

I also can’t help but think of the irony in Melania ripping off Michelle Obama, when her supporters are the ones who promoted this horrifyingly offensive comic...

But after all this, are we really that surprised?

USA World News The World

RNC Drama, Twitter Bullies and Baton Rouge: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesday’s can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines from the week so you can stay on top of things.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. The Republican National convention begins


On Monday, July 18th, the Republican National Convention kicked off in Cleveland, Ohio to formally announce Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. A few hours in, social media was alight with criticism as plagiarism allegations surfaced in response to Melania Trump’s introductory speech.

The convention is said to amass crowds of 50,000+ people.

2. Shooting in Baton Rouge

 Raw Story
Raw Story

A gunman, identified as Gavin Eugene Long, killed three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was shot dead shortly after by a SWAT team.

Long is a former marine and allegedly suffered from PTSD. Hours before he was shot, Long released a handwritten “manifesto” calling the shooting a “necessary evil.” In a video posted on social media, he states: “Zero [revolutions] have been successful through simply protesting. It has never been successful and it never will.”

Despite claims that the Black Lives Matter movement was behind this, Long described himself as an “alpha male” and made it clear his actions were his alone.

3. Attacks in Nice on Bastille Day

Love this pic
Love This Pic

What started as a day of celebration in Nice, France turned into a day of mourning after a lorry driver plowed into a large crowd, killing 84. Ten of the victims were children; over 300 were hospitalized. The driver was identified as Franco-Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, age 31.

France extended its state of emergency for another six months following the attack. This marks the third major terrorist attack in France within the span of 18 months.

4. Attempted coup in Turkey

 Huffington Post
Huffington Post

A faction of the Turkish military attempted to carry out a coup in Ankara. As it was happening, people took to social media to try to figure out the chain of events.

Nearly 10,000 people have been detained and 600 schools closed as part of counter-measures by President Erdogan to shut down opposition. He has since declared a state of emergency for three months following the coup attempt.

5. Mike Pence is announced as Donald Trump’s running mate


Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana, was announced via social media as Donald Trump’s pick for VP. When their joint logo was released, pretty much everyone had an opinion about it.

6. Emmy nominations are released


Nominated TV shows include the hugely popular Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, House of Cards, and Mr. Robot. The awards show is set to take place in September.

7. Twitter permanently suspends Milo Yiannopoulos


Milo Yiannopoulos facilitated the bullying of Leslie Jones, Ghostbusters actress, after posting his review of the movie and getting his followers to flood the actress with a barrage of hate. In response, Jones tweeted: “I feel like I’m in a personal hell. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. It’s just too much. It shouldn’t be like this. So hurt right now.”

Yiannopoulos is dubbed by the New York Times as “one of the most egregious and consistent offenders of [Twitter’s] terms of service.”

Milo Yiannopoulos isn’t the first celebrity to wreak havoc and get suspended on Twitter. Earlier this year, Azaelia Banks incited the wrath of thousands of users when she started a racially and culturally insensitive tirade against Zayn Malik.

8. Massachusetts Attorney General begins crackdown on assault weapons

Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General, is trying to ban assault rifles in her state. Her goal is to change the parameters of what’s deemed “compliant” with state gun laws. She claims manufacturers have deemed certain weapons as complaint when they really shouldn’t be.

“The gun industry does not get to decide what’s compliant, we do,” she said.

9. Gary Marshall passes away


Gary Marshall passed away Tuesday, July 19th after complications from pneumonia. Those who grew up on iconic sitcoms like “Happy Days,” “Laverne and Shirley,” and “Mork and Mindy” from the 70’s remember him fondly, while younger generations know him best for major motion pictures “The Princess Diaries” and “Pretty Woman.”

Several celebrities expressed their condolences for the Hollywood icon, including Anne Hathaway, who described him as “goodness itself.” He was 81.

10. Pokémon Go generates $35 million

JS Online/a>
JS Online/a>

According to estimates from mobile app intelligence sources, Pokémon Go has already generated $35 million in revenue and has been downloaded over 30 million times. It’s currently the most downloaded app in mobile gaming history. Nintendo is benefiting big time: their stock is up by a staggering 120%.

The game’s success taken taken almost everyone by surprise. Besides using it for the sake of gaming, people are now using Pokéstops to carry out crime and even find dead bodies.

You can always get news straight to your inbox here.


Politics The World

21 facts you absolutely need to know about Muslims in America

Presented in partnership with UPF

There are people out there who think that Islam is a religion that’s imported from some faraway desert area – which couldn’t be further from the truth.

When I googled the phrase “what you need to know about American Muslims” earlier today, I expected a wealth of reliable, accurate resources to come up. Instead, the top results included websites, blog posts, and books all written by people claiming to be “experts” on Islam. As I glanced through some of them, I knew ignorance was at the core of everything they wrote.

Frustrated with the lack of authentic sources, I dug a little deeper and came across this video. Unity Productions Foundation aims to debunk the myth that Islam is “utterly incompatible” with the West by providing the audience with raw facts. And trust me, some of them will shock you.

As an American Muslim myself, it’s painful for me to witness the vehemence with which people try to slander my religion. Their unwillingness to accept Muslims as legitimate Americans is to deny our integral role in American history. American Muslims are a part of the very fabric that holds our country together.

1. There are about 7 million Muslims currently living in the U.S.

Unity Productions Foundation

Nationally, Muslims make up about 2% of our population. While that number may seem small to you, the impact American Muslims have had on the course of history, culture, art, science, and government make up for that by tenfold.

While you can surely find them in all 50 states, California, New York, New Jersey, and Michigan are known for having roughly 2-3 times the number of Muslim adults per capita than the national average.

Currently, there’s an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world – that’s over a fifth of the global population (23%, to be exact). By the year 2030, this figure is projected to increase by another 600 million. 

2. Quite literally, Islam is a religion of peace.

Unity Productions Foundation

Islam is a religion that teaches its followers to love all of humanity. As stated in the Holy Quran (16:91): “Indeed, [God] enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred…and forbids wrongful transgression.”

And let’s not forget – Islam comes from the Arabic word salaam, which means “peace.”

3. Islam came to America long before Christopher Columbus did.


When you think of the first “world explorers,” Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus undoubtedly come to mind. They’re the ones credited with discovering what was then dubbed “The New World.” But history says otherwise: contrary to popular belief, Europeans weren’t the first ones to reach North America.

Yes, it’s true: Muslims reached the shores of America long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.

And did you know that the Roanoke colony was established with the help of Muslim slaves in 1586?

Muslims also served in the American Revolution: Bampett Muhamed, Yusuf Ben Ali, Salem Poor, and Peter Salem are a few of those on record. Peter Salem, a former slave, may have even killed British major John Pitcairn in the Battle of Bunker Hill, one of the most significant fights of the Revolution.

Not to mention Thomas Jefferson himself hosted Iftar dinner at the White House in 1805, and kept a copy of the Holy Quran in his personal library.

Bet you never learned that in history class.

4. The diversity within the American Muslim population far exceeds the eye.

Unity Productions Foundation

Today’s American Muslim population is comprised of an extremely colorful mix of ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds. Read: not all Muslims are Arabs, and not all Arabs are Muslims.

Immigrant Muslims come from at least 77 different countries, with no single country accounting for more than one-in-six Muslim immigrants. The majority of Muslim immigrants to the U.S. come from Pakistan.

Just take it from me – even in a small town in the Midwest, the diversity within the Muslim community is astounding. They come from every corner of the earth: from Malaysia to Egypt, Mexico, and beyond.

5. American Muslims are politically active and hold government office positions.


Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota made history as the first Muslim sworn into office using a Quran in 2006. Two years later, André Carson of Indiana became the second Muslim to assume office as a U.S. Representative. Both are members of the Democratic party.

American Muslim youth are particularly active in the political landscape of the U.S. With their characteristically pro-minority and pro-immigration stances, they typically vote Democratic.

American Muslim women are also breaking barriers in politics; Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American, is currently running for Minnesota State Representative. Her campaign is centered on community outreach, social justice, and environmental consciousness. Nadia Syahmalina, an Indonesian-American, ran in the Maryland primary to become Hillary Clinton’s delegate at the Democratic National Convention earlier this year.

6. Black Muslims have greatly influenced American history.

Unity Productions Foundation

It would be ridiculous not to mention the impact Black Muslims have had on the course of American history. From Yarrow Mamout, the slave turned Georgetown financier, to Wallace Fard, Malcolm X,  Elijah Muhammad, and Muhammad Ali — there’s no mistaking some of America’s greatest historical figures were black, Muslim, and proud.

Wallace Fard founded the Nation of Islam in 1930. By infusing black pride and black nationalism with Islamic teachings, the Nation of Islam quickly amassed a large following of Black Muslims. However, it’s to be noted that not all Black Muslims are followers of the NOI.

Today, not only does the Nation of Islam provide faith-based solace for its followers, but also calls for an end to police brutality, equality under the law, and equal employment opportunities. There are an estimated 50,000 followers of the Nation of Islam, with a large following in the American prison system.

Today, about 40% of native-born American Muslims identify as black, and 14% of immigrant Muslims identify as black.

7. Some of the world’s most groundbreaking scientists and Nobel Laureates are Muslim.


Ahmed Zewail, the renowned Egyptian American scientist, won a Nobel prize for his groundbreaking research in Femtochemistry. He studied chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy – which is a measly 0.000000000000001 seconds. This timeframe is to a second as a second is to 32 million years. Let that sink in for a second (or rather, a femtosecond).

Special shout-out to the Muslim women in science, too: dubbed the “Cardiac Magician,” Dr. Hina Chauhdry is a cardiologist, scientist, and entrepreneur whose research explores cardiac regeneration – the process of new heart muscle growth after a patient suffers a heart attack. She’s been named one of the top fellows by the NIH for the National Research Service Award and is an Irving Scholar.

8. You’re more likely to be saved by a Muslim doctor after a terrorist attack than to be hurt or killed by a Muslim terrorist.

Unity Productions Foundation

There are over 20,000 Muslim physicians in America, operating over 100 free health clinics. However, the increased stigmatization of Muslim-sounding names, beards, and headscarves in the workplace has often made the hospital a source of discomfort.  In a study conducted between 2013-2014, nearly half of American Muslim doctors experienced increased scrutiny at work, and about a quarter experienced some kind of religious discrimination. Nearly 10% of their patients refused care because of their faith.

Many of the physicians cited anti-Muslim rhetoric in the media as a likely factor.

9. There are over 2,000 mosques in the U.S.

Unity Productions Foundation

Religious services are held in mosques, of which there are over 2,000 in America. New York and California combined contain nearly 1/4 of the nation’s mosques.

Contrary to what the media wants you to think, mosques aren’t breeding grounds for radicalization. Mosques double as a place of worship and civic engagement. American Muslims who are active members of their local mosques are found to be 53 percent more involved in community outreach activities than those who are not.

10. Many Muslims fight for and defend our country overseas. 

White House Tumblr

According to figures from the Pentagon, over 5,800 members of our military self-identify as Muslims. That’s over 5,000 of your army men and women, marines, and air force officers. Your Muslim brothers and sisters don the uniform and are doing the hardest and bravest job this country has to offer.

However, the military is yet another field where Muslims face scrutiny and discrimination. Oftentimes, members find themselves as “spokespeople” for Islam, fielding questions and defending its teachings.

11. American Muslims are found in every sector of our country.

Unity Productions Foundation

This one doesn’t take too much to explain. Just look around you – I guarantee you know quite a few accomplished Muslims.  We’re your physicians, politicians, activists, athletes, and teachers. We’re also your business owners, photographers, wedding planners, and fashion designers.

Not to mention your construction workers, pilots, engineers, and lawyers…I could keep going, but I’ll spare you.

12. You can say American Muslims have taken over the music industry – to put that mildly. 

Lupe Fiasco

Whether you know it or not, some of your favorite music artists are also Muslim: the list includes Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, T-Pain, Busta Rhymes, Akon, and of course – our honorary American, Zayn Malik.

While some artists are more open about their identities as Muslims than others, many have dropped hints about it through song lyrics. Lupe Fiasco’s “Muhammad Walks” is perhaps the boldest and outright declaration of his faith:

I hope Allah (God) forgive my sins and faults
And to the sisters and the mothers of ours
Who cover theyselves cause they’re lovers of God
The Creator of the worlds, Sculptor of the stars,
During Hajj we walk, through Ramadan we starve
Though you not eatin’, there’s a feedin’ of the mind
A defeatin’ of the demons, a seein’ of the signs

Some of your favorite rappers are also affiliated with The Nation of Islam, most notably Nas, Gang Starr, Rakim, and several members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Nas’s album “I Am…” features Surah al-Nas from the Quran on the inside booklet, a play on both his name and the meaning of the passage, which means “Mankind.”

Islam’s influence on the genre has been so great, The Nation of Islam was once called “hip-hop’s unofficial religion.” Now you know.

13. And let’s not forget about incredible athletes like Hakeem Olajuwon.

Got ‘Em Coach

There are some people out there who, shockingly, can’t name you a single Muslim American athlete. And to that, I scoff. I’m talking about Kareem Abdul Jabbar, NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a six-time NBA champion. I’m taking about Hakeem Olajuwon, another basketball legend, along with Shaquille O’Neal, Rasheed Wallace, and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.  And there’s no way you can forget about Muhammad Ali, the most iconic boxer of all time.

But wait – there’s even more where that came from.

14. No, American Muslim women are not “oppressed.”

Unity Productions Foundation

This has probably become the singular line used to defend the appearance of Muslim women who choose to don the headscarf, also called a hijab. Now, listen here: Muslim women aren’t forced to dress in a particular way. We are free to make our own empowered choices, and that’s our right, both as Muslims and as women.

15. No matter what people think, the biggest victims of terrorism are actually Muslims.

Unity Productions Foundation

Globally, there are more Muslims who suffer at the hands of terrorism than any other faith population. While you continue to label “radical Islamic extremism” as the biggest threat to American national security, between 82-97% of terrorism victims are actually Muslims.

16. Almost half of all American Muslims experience racial or religious discrimination.

Unity Productions Foundation

Let’s be real: that’s an incredibly high statistic. Racial or religious discrimination against Muslims has manifested itself everywhere, be it at work, the classroom, and even on the road.

The divisive anti-Muslim rhetoric we see in today’s media is at an all-time high, exacerbated by the onset of the 2016 elections. In turn, we’re seeing an increase in discrimination some are arguing is even worse than the ensuing months post-9/11.

17. But only 27% of Americans polled think well of their Muslim neighbors.

Unity Productions Foundation

See a pattern?

Besides facing discrimination, Muslims are also the frequent victims of public harassment and assault. Not to mention the fact that mosques around the country have been defaced, vandalized, and specifically targeted by KKK supporters.

18. Despite the backlash we face in the media, we’re honestly pretty funny.


“Comedy missionaries” Aasif Mandvi, Aziz Ansari, David Chapelle, Dean Obeidallah, and Maysoon Zayid are some of the funniest Muslim Americans who are combatting ignorance with laughter. Mandvi’s work with The Daily Show has given him a space to explore his identity as an Indian-American Muslim, and Ansari’s iconic performance as Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation has quite aptly solidified him as a household name.

Obeidallah and Zayid teamed up this year to found Muslim Funny Fest, the first comedy festival of its kind. “Most people don’t know how funny Muslims can be and the goal of this festival is to make it clear that Muslim comedians are hilarious,” as declared on the site.

As a self-proclaimed pun enthusiast, I’m inclined to agree with them on this one.

19. American Muslims make sure to give back to their communities and participate in social justice initiatives.

Unity Productions Foundation

Many Muslims have responded to the increase in Islamophobia with social justice activism, involvement in the political process, and public education. 75% of American Muslims report to have donated or assisted local charities, and over 30% report working to solve a problem or improving their local communities.

Not to mention, one of the five pillars of Islam requires us to give charity (zakat). 2.5% of one’s wealth is to be set aside annually to benefit those who are less fortunate; its distribution is up to the discretion of the individual. Charity is also typically given at the end of Ramadan, called zakat-al-fitr.

20. They’re so far-reaching, they’ve even made it to space.


Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American Muslim woman, broke several records when she became the first female private space explorer in 2006. Her solo expedition consisted of 8 days aboard the International Space Station. While she was in space, she maintained a blog about her experiences that garnered over 50 million hits from all around the world.

On top of all that, Ansari’s also an entrepreneur – she’s acting CEO and co-founder of her company, Prodea Systems.

As someone who was (and still is) obsessed with space at a young age, this is just too cool to me.

21. Still doubting what we’re saying? It’s all right here:

Tech Now + Beyond Interviews

Age Doesn’t Stop this Coder: An Interview with CoderBunnyz Founder Samaira Mehta


Samaira Mehta is quite the accomplished young lady – at just 8 years old, she’s already created a board game, held workshops, and spoken to various communities in an effort to teach young kids the fundamentals of coding. “I first played [my game] CoderBunnyz with my 4 year old brother and saw him get very excited,” Samaira says. “I saw that I could really teach young kids and get them excited about coding; that’s when I started taking workshops and teaching kids using my game.”

Her board game, CoderBunnyz, is a smash hit with her peers. Simply put, it’s a board game “to get young kids excited about coding in a fun way.”

We asked Samaira to give us a little background on CoderBunnyz and the inspiration behind it.

The Tempest: What inspired you to start Coder Bunnyz?

Samaira Mehta: Creating CoderBunnyz has been quite a journey. My love for coding, playing board games, bunnies, and my younger brother have all played part in inspiring and shaping CoderBunnyz.

First, let me tell you how the seeds of CoderBunnyz were sown. One day, I finished playing board games with my parents, and when they got bored (actually, they just kept losing and didn’t want to play anymore), I went to the computer to do a little coding. I thought to myself, “today has been an amazingly cool day. I’ve done two of my most favorite things – coding and board games – and if I mix these two, I’m sure I could create something really cool.” After all, there are so many people who learn real estate ideas from Monopoly, and spelling from Scrabble. So I thought – why not teach other people how to code?

I added my favorite animal – a bunny – to the name, and that’s where I got “Coderbunnyz!”

So, how does CoderBunnyz teach kids about coding and algorithms?

SamairaSimple. Kids roll the dice and pick up CoderBunnyz code cards to help the bunny reach the destination. Advanced-level kids also observe and write their algorithms after the game. In the process, they learn the fundamentals of coding: sequencing, conditional, loop, iterations, functions, debugging and more.

CoderBunnyz is created by a kid, for kids. I  mixed my love for board games and passion for coding to create CoderBunnyz. I’m spreading my love for coding by conducting workshops at libraries and tech events all over Silicon Valley. So far, I’ve done over 30 workshops teaching over 1,100 kids.


What kind of problems does Coder Bunnyz solve?

Coding is starting to become an important part of life. Coding is everywhere – in your phone, microwave, TV and even satellite. CoderBunnyz helps get kids started early on coding with a playful board game. Kids don’t necessarily know they’re learning coding, but the board game is building their problem solving and programming fundamentals.

Coding is especially becoming an important part of STEM (Science Technology Engineering + Math) learning. CoderBunnyz helps in STEM by teaching all of the logic behind basic programming and coding under the guise of the playful board game. Within no time, kids will learn coding fundamentals (basic and advanced) while having family fun. Turns out all programming language like Scratch, Python and Java use the same concepts. Once a kid learns the fundamentals, it becomes much easier for them to learn any coding language.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a girl your age interested in technology/science, what would it be?

My advice would be for all my fellow girls to explore, observe and ask questions. Logical thinking and problem solving is very important and that’s something that we do every day. If you are interested in technology and science there are so many programs to get involved with today. Companies like Facebook, Google, Oracle, Microsoft and others are doing so much to help girls in technology.

I personally had the opportunity to do multiple workshops at Google, and I see so many girls excited about STEM. So go ahead, explore STEM programs in your area! I guarantee that you will find groups and programs in your local libraries, clubs in school and in the communities. Find the one that matches your interests and pursue it. 


Where do you see Coder Bunnyz headed in the future?

I have been doing workshops at schools, libraries, and tech events in order to get young kids excited about coding. I want to see CoderBunnyz in the hands of every young kid at home and in schools all over the world! It’s a playful way of introducing them to STEM and programming that their parents and teachers would love to get them started with.

If you had a day completely free and to yourself, what would you do?

Well, I would do some coding, study with my dad, play with my brother, take a short nap with my mom, and then read, draw, write, and watch TV. I have to keep myself busy! 🙂

You can support Samaira and CoderBunnyz by visiting her website and Facebook page. This interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.